Scrutineers to probe school consultation decision next month

Nine councillors, led by former chairman of the Scrutiny Committee have called in the decision made by the Isle of Wight council Executive earlier in the month to consult on school places.

Magnifying glass:

As reported last week, the recent decision by the Isle of Wight Executive to go ahead with a consultation on the future of school places, has been called-in.

The Scrutiny Committee will meet on 8th January at County Hall to consider the decision made by the council’s Executive.

Reason for call-in
The meeting will be chaired by deputy chairman, Cllr Dave Stewart (Con) after Cllr Geoff Lumley (Lab) resigned two weeks ago.

Papers relating to the call-in were issued yesterday (Tuesday) and reveal the details of who signed the call-in and why.

Decision to Consult on the Future Provision of 11-16 and Post-16 School and College Places on the Isle of Wight

Called in because:-

  • The decision was made without the Scrutiny Committee having the opportunity to examine the proposed decision with the benefit of the school places data only previously made available to members of the Executive and their political grouping.
  • The decision was made based on a Report that contained no Background Papers, as required under the Council’s Constitution (Access to information rules – pages 114-117, part 8)
  • The decision was made at a meeting that had been arranged without the required notice to members of the public. (PROCEDURE RULES FOR THE REGULATION OF PROCEEDINGS – EXECUTIVE, COMMITTEES AND SUBCOMMITTEES – PROCEDURE RULE No. 4)
  • The meeting date is not detailed within the Council’s Forward Plan for decision-making.
  • The decision undermines the nature of an ‘open consultation’ by including two potentially directive proposals – to merge two Newport secondary schools on one site; and to close a sixth form that it has no authority to propose.

Council say “proper notice was given”
In relation to the third point above, following the Executive meeting on 9th December, OnTheWight contacted the legal team for advice on whether more notice needed to be given for the adjourned meeting on 10th December.

A spokesperson for the council told us,

“Proper notice was given of the Executive meeting on Tuesday 9 December. The education consultation item was adjourned to another meeting (rather than deferred), which is not unlawful. In simple terms Wednesday night’s meeting was a continuation of Tuesday night’s, so it did not need to be re-advertised as a new meeting.”

A “closed consultation”
The papers go on to outline supporting information and a list of those who supported the call-in.

Brief statement supporting reasons for call-in:-
Decision on what appears to be a ‘closed consultation’ has caused upset across many parts of the Island’s community of parents with school-age children.

Desired outcome:
That the Executive sets aside this decision until the Scrutiny Committee has had an opportunity to examine the data that is now available and perhaps review its original recommendations of 4.12.2014. (This can be done by the Scrutiny Committee at its formal meeting of 8.01.2015.)

Names of members signing call-in (minimum of three with two being members of the Scrutiny Committee :-

1. Geoff Lumley (Newport East) (Lead member for the Call-in)
2. Matthew Price (Newport North)
3. Julie Jones-Evans (Newport Central)
4. Chris Whitehouse (Newport West)
5. John Hobart (Carisbrooke)
6. Wayne Whittle
7. Alan Hollands
8. Richard Priest
9. Bob Blezzard

Image: Steven Smith under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, 24th December, 2014 10:35am



Filed under: Education, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, School Reform, Top story

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